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Self-Helps Tools- “Your body is not an apology workbook; Tools for living radical self-love.”

Necessary disclaimer to you – I speak from the perspective of a Caucasian, female, cisgender, and I can only speak for myself. As a therapist I am called to broaden my view of other cultures, experiences, skin colors, sexual orientation, ethnicities, values, religions, etc. All things that influence how we interface with the world. I acknowledge my privileged position that enables me to be able to stop and reflect on my own biases, and further my understanding of myself and the world. YOU should not expect anything less from your therapist!

Hello YOU! In this post I wanted to touch on a great self-help book,  “Your body is not an apology, workbook; tools for living radical-self love,” by Sonya Renee Taylor, a sort of tool box sequel of the “Your body is not an apology.” The author’s intent seems to be to empower her audience with practical tools in order to grow and heal when it comes to our relationship with our bodies and media (though not limited to that). I found it particularly helpful as a self-help book in creating a dialogue between our own bodies and the image that it is expected of that in the media. I also want to be clear that recommending a self-help book does not align with the recent mentality that pushes us to “feel better at all costs.” The journey is what matters, and I believe that books that promote self-awareness and self-discovery, are as healthy a gym membership or a walk in nature.

“Your body is not an apology workbook,” contains different chapters among which: Taking Out The Toxic, Mind Matters, Unapologetic Action, Collective Compassion. Finally, there is an epilogue titled: “Embodying radical self-love to change the world.” I believe that each chapter and self-help exercise in this book can be used in no particular order, and the activities listed in it can be proven very effective and useful especially if used in a therapeutic relationship. Some of the exercises listed in this workbook can be used as homework for clients and discussed with the therapist. Among the chapters that I particularly enjoyed is: “Banish the binary.” During the past couple of years, we have probably learned like never before, the importance of acknowledging gender differences and gender expressions. We have been learning about how using our pronoun when we introduced ourselves can normalize a non-binary vision of gender. Though, I find that a lot of people are still struggling with this concept, and do not understand the point of introducing ourselves with our pronoun. There is a lot of ignorance about what it means to be LGBTQ + allies. On page 79 of this book Sonia Renee Taylor explains how the binary thinking really is a very limited and dichotomic way to looking at things (eg. Bad vs good, white vs black, etc). The author briefly talks about how a binary language can be marginalizing, and a potential barrier to what she calls, “radical self-love.”

From a therapist point of view I can see how different techniques and approaches have been collaged into this workbook. I am thinking CBT, DBT, strength based, narrative approaches, just to mention few.

Even though it is not always easy to do, I find journaling very helpful when it comes to work on self-awareness, and seeking a change in our behaviors. Journaling not only helps us become aware of what happens in the moment, but also sets the bases for a potential next step that might lead to it change.

If journaling seems too hard, just think of what you would like to write down, maybe say it out loud; or even better, share it with someone.

This is a example of journaling that you can do directly on the book.

In the book I liked the idea of creating your own Mantra, of rewriting your narrative and embracing a new one. The workbook absolutely embraces the concept of radical self-love that was introduced with Sonya Renee Taylor’s same titled book. I have not read her book yet, and this was an intentional choice. I wanted to see if this workbook was approachable even without reading the book. I share the authors mentality about living in the moment and exploring what you think you need to in the moment. For some people might be best to start at the beginning; but if you find yourself in the middle that is where you might need to be to learn. I tried using this book as icebreaker when working with Cisgender Female adolescents as well as non-binary adolescents who feels more attuned with their female side. Because the language of the workbook it is so friendly, non-judgmental, and the nature of the exercises it’s not pretentious, I found that this a useful tool to talk about how the adolescents relate to their body. How is their relationship with their bodies and social media. I found it helpful to go through the exercises together with my adolescent clients, as well as giving them if few copies to work on between sessions.

Finally, I would love to see more men approaching this kind of readings to get in touch with their nurturing female parts, and potentially bring forth these parts in their daily lives. I wish you to enjoy this workbook as I did.

Stay at-tuned and share it if you liked it!

Ciao, S

Anxiety – Procrastination – Fear (_of failure_)

Felling anxious yet?

Good morning, another day in paradise!

Anxiety, what a terrible, terrible beast! Gosh I’m so happy I am not “anxiety” because I would have a lot of enemies. But what’s really anxiety all about? At the end of the day, it is the expression of some fears that are quite embedded in our own life experience. If we are anxious about doing something, if we’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, we shouldn’t try to get rid of anxiety or pathologizing it. Anxiety is there to tell us to be careful, because maybe in our life experience we have learned that if we fear a particular situation we won’t get in any trouble, whatever the trouble might be. Listening to our anxiety instead, it is helpful to understand where that anxiety is coming from. Having a mindful approach to anxiety is therefore one of the best ways to regulate it, instead of thinking of getting rid of it. It is not always easy to do by ourselves, that is why we often need professional help, or even simpler, we just need a good friend.

Also, if you are an anxious person, you might have found yourself that your anxiety can be a real pain when it comes to begin and finish something. You know it already! I’m talking about procrastination. This is another beast. When we talk about procrastinating projects and slowing ourselves down from reaching our goals, a lot of the time we hear things like: “You need more will power, you need to be more disciplined, read more stoic quotes ,LOL.” In reality, as science proved, there is no such a thing as will power. In fact, a lot of our actions are guided by the oldest part of our brain, which is located in the back of our head. That part of our brain contains our narratives so to speak, our visions of self. And it is also the part of our brain that regulates our emotions, including our survival mechanisms. When we procrastinate and we think that the willing power will save us, we’re asking the prefrontal cortex, also known as the youngest part of the brain, to summon some magic power. As science has proven, this young part of our brain doesn’t have the capacity to overcome our embedded and old narratives, unless dutifully trained.

Among other things, when we procrastinate, we are letting our anxiety in the way of succeeding. In other words, imposter syndrome! Yes, I know you know A+! And what are we gonna do about it? Well, oftentimes when we do not finish things, there are some reasons behind it, and it’s not necessarily laziness (I know some of you out there can be hard on themselves!). What if we do succeed at something, and even though a part of us is incredibly happy about succeeding, there may be another part of us that cannot tolerate success; that identifies success with something scary, even dangerous. Here we have two parts conflicting with each other. In this situation, anxiety serves us as a way to avoid having to deal with this pesky internal conflict. Wow, and we just thought we were lazy, huh?

Curious to learn more about anxiety yet?

Stay at-tuned.